We all know print media is on the decline, but no better example than the once stellar Lonely Planet naming one of the worst countries in the world #1 in its Top Ten Destination List.
Lonely Planet named Uganda #1 explaining, “It’s taken nasty dictatorships and a brutal civil war to keep Uganda off the tourist radar, but stability is returning and it won’t be long before visitors come flocking back.”
That was in November. Stability has not returned; it’s getting manifestly worse. And tourism has sunk to levels not seen since Idi Amin, and rightly so.
Yesterday Uganda’s main opposition leader, and in fact all opposition politicians in Parliament, were arrested without charge, following another (how many now, 24?) brutal battle on the streets of a Kampala suburb. (Most politicians, including the leader Kizza Besigye, were released late today.)
This is not a place you want to visit. Demonstrations have continued since the current dictator’s rigged last election more than a year ago. Tourism has plummeted. The road from the international airport at Entebbe to the capital of Kampala – the only road from the airport – and thence to the rest of the country is lined with police and military.
And even as some of the country’s other lower corrupt politicians try to join the twevolution of Besigye, Yoweri Museveni’s grip is tightening. This week he simply ignored Parliament’s initial moves to impeach him, and there is every indication he will jail anyone associated with moving such legislation forward.
He has jailed, fired and reappointed cronies to Uganda’s judiciary. Patent corruption of the highest kind, giant under-the-table payments from oil companies and huge swindles of private land, are widely known. But today Uganda’s newly reconstituted courts threw out all attempts to allow Parliament to investigate further.
The pattern is identical to the early days of Zimbabwe, and I must admit having traveled in Zimbabwe during the same period, there. Travel right now – if you miss a demonstration and take extra time for military check posts – can actually be an incredible value, since tourist costs have dropped so much.
From a safety point of view, if you miss the demonstrations tourists are more or less being left to their own devices.
But like Zimbabwe, the demonstrations will increase before the country settles into a state of awkward misery, where fuel and sometimes even food becomes scarce. Where officials like park rangers go on the take just to stay alive. It’s hard to predict exactly when such a time occurs.
Lonely Planet’s list was eclectic at the least. Myanmar and Switzerland also made the Top Ten.
About the only truth to Lonely Planet’s naming Uganda is that Uganda is even more lonely than before.
Jim why don’t you come and visit Uganda,maybe it would help you know the truth.otherwise check your facts.
Uganda the Perl of Africa is still one of the most hospitable country in Africa and are always ready to welcome all tourists coming to Uganda. Yes, there might have been a few irregularities since this is Africa, but nothing major.Please take time before you write an article about something to gather all the facts from first parties and not second or third party. This you have published is going to affect Ugandan tourism and yet there was no major problem down here.
It’s well documented that there are human rights abuses in Uganda, I can’t disagree there.
Tourist numbers are down slightly – because of the global economic situation.
The TRUTH about Uganda is that everyone who comes to work or volunteer stays (like I have) or comes back (like so many of my friends have). I have only met 2 people who didn’t enjoy life here, and both were gay. The Anti Homosexuality Bill is a heinous piece of legislation, that is more of a reflection on lack of education and the influence of American evangelicals than it is on the Ugandan psyche.
Uganda is a wonderfully welcoming country – with big social issues – but with your condemnation you consign whole generations of Ugandans to the wastebin of history. They deserve a fairer press.